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Your PT Can Help You Keep Your Resolution

Your Physical Therapist Can Help You Keep Your Resolution

As one year comes to a close and another begins, people begin to set goals and make resolutions. Losing weight, getting to the gym more often or getting into “better shape” are all common. These all require increasing your amount of physical activity. More activity is great for your health, energy levels, sleep, and mood. However, ramping up your activity level too quickly after a holiday season of eating, drinking and being merry can lead to pain, injury and disappointment if your body isn’t ready for it.

Your physical therapist is an expert in human movement, and can help you safely reach your fitness goals. People think of PTs as the person to see after an injury, but a visit before you change your activity level could prevent injury in the first place. An evaluation by your PT will include assessment of your strength, range of motion, and functional movement patterns – think jumping, running, squatting, carrying. Some PTs even like to use a standardized assessment, such as the Functional Movement Screen.

Most common injuries from new fitness routines are caused by underlying weakness, range of motion deficits, or compensatory movement patterns. Your PT will find these during your assessment. They can then prescribe exercises or movements to address the issues found and get you safely moving into the new year!

The other common way people get injured working towards their resolution is with overtraining, or doing too much too soon. Physical therapists are also experts in exercise prescription and program design. Your PT can help you create a routine specific to your needs and goals that will progress appropriately and keep you out of trouble.

So stop only thinking of your PT after you’re injured. In this case, it’s true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Seeing your physical therapist before you start on your resolution can keep you on track, injury free, and help you reach your goals for the new year!

Do You Know Your Movement Vital Signs?

Do You Know Your Movement Vital Signs?

Most people think of heart rate or blood pressure when they think of vital signs. It is common to use numbers to quantify health and risk of disease. The American Heart Association encourages people to “know their numbers” referring to blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood glucose, and weight. However, research is now showing the importance of moving properly for health. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers you can use to quantify your movement health:

Walking Speed

Walking speed has been called the “sixth vital sign” in medical literature recently. It is easy to measure, and takes into account strength, balance, coordination, confidence, cardiovascular fitness, tolerance to activity, and a whole host of other factors. It has also been shown to be predictive of future hospitalizations, functional decline, and overall mortality. Normal walking speed is considered to be 1.2 to 1.4 meters per second.

Push Ups

Push ups are popular to build strength, but a recent study found that they can show us a lot about your heart too. Researchers found that men who could do 40 or more consecutive push ups were at a 96% lower risk for cardiovascular disease than were men who could do less than 10. The push up test was also more useful in predicting future cardiovascular disease than aerobic capacity measured on a treadmill.

Grip Strength

Hand grip strength has been shown to be strongly correlated with health. The stronger your hand grip is, the less likely you are to suffer from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, COPD, and all types of cancer. In the study, muscle weakness was defined as grip strength <26 kg for men and <16 kg for women. Grip strength below these numbers was highly correlated with an increase in disease.

Standing From the Floor

If you can’t easily get down on the floor and back up your health might be in trouble, according to a study that looked at more than 2,000 people. The study asked people to go from standing to sitting on the floor and back up with as little support as needed. They found that if you need to use more than one hand to get up and down from the floor that you were 2 to 5 times more likely to die in the next 7 years than someone who can do it with just one hand, or even better, no hands at all.

Moving well is obviously important to overall health and longer life. These tests can give a snapshot of how you’re doing. If you’re having trouble with any of them, considering seeing a movement specialist – your physical therapist.

Walking

A Physical Therapists Recommendation to Walk?

Most people know that physical therapists often recommend exercise as part of their treatment. What most people don’t realize is how simple that exercise can be. Instead of complicated workouts, heavy weight lifting, or running for miles, physical therapists often surprise people when they recommend walking.

While it seems like an easy exercise, walking still has powerful health benefits. Walking 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week has been shown to improve cardiovascular endurance, and reduce blood pressure and weight. Lots of people are using activity trackers and apps to track steps during their daily activities, and this too has been shown to have benefits. These include reducing disability and pain associated with conditions like knee osteoarthritis. While many people aim for 10,000 steps per day, research shows that as little as 6,000 steps a day can reduce pain and disability while boosting cardiovascular health.

If you’re thinking about starting a regular walking program or just increasing the amount of walking you do throughout the day, it’s important that you do it the right way. The general recommendation for building any physical activity is to take whatever amount of the activity you do in a week and increase it by 5% or less per week. A good general starting place would be 3,000 steps per day, and an example program following the 5% rule might look like this:

Week 1: 3000 steps (1.5 miles)

Week 8: 4500 steps (2.25 miles)

Week 2: 3150 steps

Week 9: 4800 steps

Week 3: 3300 steps

Week 10: 5000 steps (2.5 miles)

Week 4: 3500 steps (1.75 miles)

Week 11: 5250 steps

Week 5: 3750 steps

Week 12: 5500 steps (2.75 miles)

Week 6: 4000 steps (2 miles)

Week 13: 5800 steps

Week 7: 4200 steps

Week 14: 6000 steps (3 miles)

If you’re not sure if you’re ready to walk the recommended 6,000 steps a day, you can always visit a physical therapist for a review of your medical history and baseline testing to find out what a safe level for you to start at would be. A PT can also help you design a program to safely meet your goals.

One last thing to consider is footwear. Although walking is less stressful than running, it’s still important to take care of your feet. Shoes designed for running work well to cushion and support your feet when walking too. If you need help picking the right pair, a PT can help and so can the staff at a good specialty running store.

Exercise and Your Mood

Exercise and Your Mood

Exercise has great benefits for your physical health – it can strengthen your muscles, improve your cardiovascular system, and reduce your risk of diseases like stroke and diabetes. But, did you know that exercise can have benefits for your mental health too?

Why exercise lifts your mood

Exercise causes your brain to release chemicals including endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals all work together to make you feel good. In addition to the chemical changes in your brain, exercising can lead to a feeling of accomplishment and relaxation of your muscles, also helping you feel good.

Exercise and depression

Exercise on it’s own is not a cure for depression, but research has show it can be as effective as medication for mild to moderate depression. In fact, the most commonly prescribed antidepressants are SSRI drugs, which work by increasing the amount of serotonin in your system. As mentioned above, exercise also increases the amount of serotonin in your system, so the effect on depression shouldn’t be a surprise.

Make time for yourself

Many people believe they are “too busy” for exercise. Being “too busy” for something really just means that you’re prioritizing something else above it. By placing exercise high on your priority list, you’re prioritizing yourself. This is a great way to help boost your mood and your confidence, because you’re taking a portion of your day for yourself.

Choose physical activity you enjoy

While any physical activity will help release endorphins and serotonin, choosing something you enjoy can help boost your mood even further. In addition, by using physical activity that’s fun for you, you’ll be more likely to be consistent. Consistently exercising is important for getting the most benefit out of it.

How Much Physical Activity do Kids Need

How Much Physical Activity do Kids Need?

Recently we have seen a rise of diseases in children that in the past had only been seen in adults. Things like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure are being seen more frequently in children. One of the best ways to combat the rise of these diseases is to make sure that your kids are getting enough physical activity.

The Department of Health and Human Services has developed guidelines recommending that youth ages 6-17 participate in 60 minutes or more of physical activity 7 days/ week. This is total activity time, so 1 hour, 2 30 minute sessions, or 4 sessions of 15 minutes each in a day would all satisfy this recommendation. Most of this activity should be at either moderate or vigorous intensity.

An easy way to distinguish vigorous vs moderate intensity exercise is as follows:

Moderate intensity allows you to talk but not sing during or right after activity

Vigorous intensity allows you to say only a few words at a time

As part of the 60 minutes daily, it is recommended that children participate in muscle strengthening activities 3 days/wk and bone strengthening activities 3 days/wk. Some activities that would fit into these categories are listed below:

Muscle Strengthening Activities

Games like tug of war
Climbing playground equipment
Push ups, pull ups, or sit ups
Activities like crab walking, bear walking, or wheelbarrow with a partner

Bone Strengthening Activities

Hopscotch
Jumping rope
Skipping
Sports that include jumping like basketball or volleyball

To get and keep kids participating, physical activity should be fun and incorporated into playful activities that are age appropriate. Being involved in physical education in school is important, especially if children are not involved in extracurricular activities that meet the requirements.

Summer camps can be a great way to keep kids active during summer vacation.

For more information check out:

https://health.gov/paguidelines/midcourse/youth-fact-sheet.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/physicalactivity/facts.htm

Prevent Pain Stay Strong

Prevent Pain Stay Strong

You know exercise is important to your health. It helps you feel better physically, gives you energy, and helps you deal with the stress of your busy life.

But what do you do when life gets too busy to take an exercise class, go for a run, or get to the gym?

It’s easy to start skipping exercise when life gets busy, but that leads to less energy, and aches and pains cropping up. This makes you feel like exercising even less, and leads to a downward spiral. That means that finding time to exercise when life is busy is even more important.

If you can find 8 minutes, you can maintain your strength even on your busiest day.

Exercise doesn’t have to take lots of time. In fact, your 8 minutes don’t even have to be all together. You can break them up throughout the day. Doing one exercise for one minute every hour while at work counts just as much as doing 8 minutes of exercise after the kids are in bed and before you collapse on the couch. The following exercises use your body weight for resistance, so you don’t need any equipment. They also use many muscle groups at onces so you can maintain strength in your whole body in a short amount of time.

  1. The plank; Lying on your stomach, with your forearms on the ground, elbows under the shoulders, and arms parallel to the body. Toes tucked under, engage your stomach muscles and lift your body up. Hold for 20 seconds, rest 5 seconds, and repeat 3 times.
  2. Push up; (do on your knees if you need an easier version). 20 seconds of push ups, 10 seconds of rest and repeat.
  3. Quadruped -Start on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders, and you knees under your hips. Lift and reach with one arm and the opposite leg, maintaining a stable core. Hold 10 seconds and repeat on opposite side. Repeat 5 times.
  4. Bridge; Lying on back, with your knees bent, engage your abdominals and lift your hips. Hold 20 seconds, rest 5 seconds, and repeat 3 times.
  5. Lunge; Stand tall and take a large step forward with the right leg, shifting your weight forward. Lower your body until the right thigh is parallel to floor and your right shin is vertical. (do not let the knee shift past right toe). Return to the start and repeat on the other side. Repeat 20 times.
  6. Squat to heel raise; Feet shoulder width apart, core engaged and arms raised high above the head. Perform a squat and return to standing then rise onto your toes. Repeat 20 times.

#preventpain #staystrong

How Much Physical Activity Do Kids Need?

Recently we have seen a rise of diseases in children that in the past had only been seen in adults. Things like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure are being seen more frequently in children. One of the best ways to combat the rise of these diseases is to make sure that your kids are getting enough physical activity.

The Department of Health and Human Services has developed guidelines recommending that youth ages 6-17 participate in 60 minutes or more of physical activity 7 days/ week. This is total activity time, so 1 hour, 2 30 minute sessions, or 4 sessions of 15 minutes each in a day would all satisfy this recommendation. Most of this activity should be at either moderate or vigorous intensity.

An easy way to distinguish vigorous vs moderate intensity exercise is as follows:

Moderate intensity allows you to talk but not sing during or right after activity

Vigorous intensity allows you to say only a few words at a time

As part of the 60 minutes daily, it is recommended that children participate in muscle strengthening activities 3 days/wk and bone strengthening activities 3 days/wk. Some activities that would fit into these categories are listed below:

Muscle Strengthening Activities

  1. Games like tug of war
  2. Climbing playground equipment
  3. Push ups, pull ups, or sit ups
  4. Activities like crab walking, bear walking, or wheelbarrow with a partner

Bone Strengthening Activities

  1. Hopscotch
  2. Jumping rope
  3. Skipping
  4. Sports that include jumping like basketball or volleyball

To get and keep kids participating, physical activity should be fun and incorporated into playful activities that are age appropriate. Being involved in physical education in school is important, especially if children are not involved in extracurricular activities that meet the requirements. Summer camps can be a great way to keep kids active during summer vacation.

For more information check out:

  1. https://health.gov/paguidelines/midcourse/youth-fact-sheet.pdf
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/physicalactivity/facts.htm
Prevent Pain. Stay Strong.

Prevent Pain. Stay Strong.

You know exercise is important to your health. It helps you feel better physically, gives you energy, and helps you deal with the stress of your busy life.

But what do you do when life gets too busy to take an exercise class, go for a run, or get to the gym?

It’s easy to start skipping exercise when life gets busy, but that leads to less energy, and aches and pains cropping up. This makes you feel like exercising even less, and leads to a downward spiral. That means that finding time to exercise when life is busy is even more important.

If you can find 8 minutes, you can maintain your strength even on your busiest day.

Exercise doesn’t have to take lots of time. In fact, your 8 minutes don’t even have to be all together. You can break them up throughout the day. Doing one exercise for one minute every hour while at work counts just as much as doing 8 minutes of exercise after the kids are in bed and before you collapse on the couch. The following exercises use your body weight for resistance, so you don’t need any equipment. They also use many muscle groups at onces so you can maintain strength in your whole body in a short amount of time.

  1. The plank; Lying on your stomach, with your forearms on the ground, elbows under the shoulders, and arms parallel to the body. Toes tucked under, engage your stomach muscles and lift your body up. Hold for 20 seconds, rest 5 seconds, and repeat 3 times.
  1. Push up; (do on your knees if you need an easier version). 20 seconds of push ups, 10 seconds of rest and repeat.
  1. Quadruped – Start on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders, and you knees under your hips. Lift and reach with one arm and the opposite leg, maintaining a stable core. Hold 10 seconds and repeat on opposite side. Repeat 5 times.
  1. Bridge; Lying on back, with your knees bent, engage your abdominals and lift your hips. Hold 20 seconds, rest 5 seconds, and repeat 3 times.
  1. Lunge; Stand tall and take a large step forward with the right leg, shifting your weight forward. Lower your body until the right thigh is parallel to floor and your right shin is vertical. (do not let the knee shift past right toe). Return to the start and repeat on the other side. Repeat 20 times.
  1. Squat to heel raise; Feet shoulder width apart, core engaged and arms raised high above the head. Perform a squat and return to standing then rise onto your toes. Repeat 20 times.

#preventpain #staystrong

Ready, Set, Refresh! How Physical Therapy Can Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals

When the calendar year comes to a close, we often find ourselves physically and mentally depleted from the holidays and the end-of-the-year rush. It’s no wonder that three of the most common self-improvement resolutions uttered as the clock strikes midnight are: eat more healthily, lose weight and commit to a regular exercise program.

January is a great time to press the restart button and revisit our ongoing quest to be better versions of ourselves, and not just because the longstanding New Year’s Eve tradition tells us to. Each year, however, Americans struggle to turn the goals they’ve set out for themselves into long-term change. In fact, according to Statistic Brain Research Institute, of the 41% of Americans who make resolutions each year, just 9.2% successfully achieve their objectives.

When it comes to committing to a regular exercise program, don’t become a statistic! For those looking to make exercise a regular habit, enlisting help in achieving your goals is one way to ensure success. You might consider recruiting an exercise buddy (to make you accountable), using a calendar app to schedule workouts (to dedicate time in your day) or consulting a healthcare professional (to supervise your program and keep you safe).

Physical therapy is a great resource for those interested in beginning a new exercise program or overcoming a nagging injury. Rehab professionals are trained to assess limitations and dysfunction, teach proper body mechanics and prevent—and treat—injuries. Your physical therapist will ask about any issues you’re encountering, evaluate your functional abilities, gather a thorough medical history and discuss your fitness and activity goals.

One rule of thumb is to start slow—particularly if you’re trying a new form of exercise or haven’t been active for some time. And once you start to form the habit of regular activity, mix it up by engaging in multiple activities rather than focusing on one. Many lingering injuries occur because of overuse or repetitive stress, most often at the hands of participating in one activity—such as running or biking—exclusively.

If you’re experiencing pain, inflammation or weakness, make an appointment to be evaluated by a physical therapist. The movement specialist will assess and identify the cause of the nagging injury and teach you how to modify your behavior to distribute stress to different parts of the body and reduce the repetitive nature of your movement patterns.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean putting your resolution to exercise regularly on hold. Your PT can work with you to identify an appropriate fitness program, including the safest frequency, intensity and duration of each workout session. The best part? There will be no excuses because you’ll have all the tools you need to be make this your most fit year yet.